Saturday at 8 a.m., Bishop Jeffrey Monforton, of the diocese of Steubeville, celebrated Mass in Finnegan Fieldhouse, followed by a Eucharistic procession to the Unite Our Nation ecumenical prayer service held outside the Steubenville cathedral.
Many of the friars from Franciscan University of Steubenville participated as concelebrants.
After Mass, students and priests gathered outside Christ the King Chapel to start the two-mile Eucharistic procession to Holy Name Cathedral in downtown Steubenville. The monstrance was carried by Monforton, the Rev. Dave Pivonka, TOR, the Rev. Shawn Robertson, TOR, and the Rev. Jonathan St. Andre, TOR, in turns throughout the procession.
During the procession, selected students and religious sisters led all four sets of mysteries of the rosary and a chaplet of Divine Mercy. Some Steubenville residents watched the procession from the sidewalk and thanked the participants for their prayers.
The procession ended at a tent outside Holy Name Cathedral. Students and other participants knelt in an empty parking lot as Monforton blessed all present with the Eucharist under the tent.
The ecumenical prayer service then started with the hymn “Amazing Grace.”
The first speaker was the Rev. Vaughn Foster Sr., founding pastor of Christ’s Community Church of Steubenville and executive director of Relationship Builders in Steubenville. Foster emphasized the message of treating others with empathy while guiding them to the truth in order that unity may prevail.
Speaking next was the Rev. Toni Hubbard, the Mission Rejoice pastor at Urban Mission Ministries in Steubenville. Hubbard emotionally delivered her message of unity under God and the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit that follows from unity.
Last was Monforton, who compared racial discrimination to a virus and said that Jesus Christ is the cure and solution to it.
The prayer service ended with the hymn “How Great Thou Art” and university students returned to campus in buses.
“It was very nice to see the community … come together and ask God to build up unity in our lives rather than all the division tearing our country (and) the world apart,” said sophomore Thomas Szkoda. “It was really beautiful, and also the Rosary was really great, asking our Lady’s intercession to protect our whole nation under the fold of her mantle.”